Rogue rabbit snares in a village near Ripon have been trapping innocent domestic pets – with one cat having to be put down after his ordeal.
Bertie the cat got trapped in a rabbit snare in a field near his home in Kirkby Malzeard.
Bertie, who was trapped for four days, had to be put down despite freeing himself from the device and making a miraculous return to his home.
Bertie’s owner Louise Morrison, 39, said he was so happy to make it home he “just purred and purred and purred”.
“It was a horrible, horrible day when he went missing,” said Mrs Morrison. “We put adverts in the shops and walked around the fields looking for him. At first we thought he might have been locked in someone’s shed. It was almost two years to the day since we bought him that he went missing.
“When he came home he was in an awful state.”
A wire from the snare wrapped so tight around Bertie’s back, it had sliced through his ligaments and cut through to the bone.
Mrs Morrison said the vet gave the family hope Bertie could make a recovery, but the wire had infected the bone and his condition deteriorated.
“Even if the infection was treated, it could have come back,” said Mrs Morrison. “So Bertie was put down.”
And Mrs Morrison now fears someone may have found Bertie caught in their snare, as the wire trapping Bertie had been cut from the device.
“If people are setting traps in fields to snare rabbits, they should make sure they are no-where near where domestic cats prowl,” said Mrs Morrison.
Mrs Morrison is also appealing for people to check their traps every day.
The Morrison family now have a new five-month-old Main Coon kitten, Merlin – but say no cat could replace Bertie. Mrs Morrison’s husband Gordon, 47, said their children Bethany, 18 – who was given Bertie as a birthday present two years ago – Poppy, 9, and Harry, 7, were “absolutely heartbroken” to lose their feline friend.
“He was a very gentle cat, even when being treated by the vet,” said Mrs Morrison.
And Mr Morrison also has a message for the people setting dangerous snares near his house.
“They should be more vigilant where they put their traps. There is a whole moorland out there. There is no need to set traps near people’s houses,” he said.
Merlin the kitten is now being kept as a house cat to keep him safe from any rogue traps in the local fields.
“He’s not going to be allowed outside after what’s happened to Bertie,” said Mrs Morrison.
Kirkby Malzeard parish council are worried the traps could be snaring other village cats, after it was reported in their meeting last month a number pet cats have been caught in rabbit snares.
They have now reported the matter to the police.